Our theme this week was Star Signs – songs of the zodiac, songs that highlight the way someone’s birth date can influence their very being (or maybe not). All the songs on this week’s list try to deal with the notion that we’re emotionally and intellectually influenced by the movement of some distant stars and planets. Some songwriters are more than happy to go along with the idea and some reject the concept outright. We opened the show with Diana Ross and the Supremes singing NO MATTER WHAT SIGN YOU ARE. Written by Berry Gordy and recorded in the the late 60’s it tried to cash in on the success of the musical HAIR and the hit tune AQUARIUS.
For jazz great Cannonball Adderley the zodiac was so fascinating that he devoted a whole 1972 album to it. With narration by DJ Rick Holmes – noted on the sleeve for his “sophisticated rhetoric” – SOUL ZODIAC is seduction par excellence, not to mention a reflection on an era when ‘The Age of Aquarius’ captured everyone’s imagination. If you’re celebrating your birthday this month, like BayFM presenters Helen from Q’s Jazz & Blues or Post Modern Backlash’s Hudson, or my gorgeous daughter Zoe, then you’re a Pisces. So it was fitting that we chose PISCES from Adderley’s album to move the show along.
Kris Kristofferson reminded us that there was a very famous Capricorn who “ate organic foods, believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes”. Yes, JESUS WAS A CAPRICORN. And then it was Creedence Clearwater Revival with a warning: there’s a BAD MOON RISING. Here they are performing the song live, in a rare video clip:
Curtis Mayfield’s “funky woman” decides, rather unfairly I think, that they’re incompatible because of what she reads in the newspaper. He tells us all about it in READINGS IN ASTROLOGY. The Floaters followed with their very groovy 1977 hit FLOAT ON.
Albert King blames the zodiac for all his troubles in BORN UNDER THE BAD SIGN. Albert was born on April 25, which makes him a Taurian. Seems like negativity might be a Taurian trait.
Jamiriquai were having a BLACK CAPRICORN DAY. Singer Jason Kay was born on December 30 and the song is reputedly autobiographical, telling of how he was kicked out of home as a teenager and surviving on the streets. I’m a Cappie myself, so I know how it feels when those occasional dark times descend. Luckily we’re essentially the zodiac’s eternal optimists so there’s always a silver lining under every black cloud. Check out the Jamiriquai video clip:
Talking of optimists, Adem is totally swept away with the power of the stars in THESE LIGHTS ARE MEANINGFUL. Tori Amos seems to be saying farewell to a February/March lover in GOODBYE PISCES. Cannonball Adderley and DJ Rick Holmes were at it again, this time with what many consider the best track from the SOUL ZODIAC album, CAPRICORN.
The Moody Blues delivered a song for all my crazy, brilliant, Gemini mates: GEMINI DREAM. Check out this video of them performing live in 1984 at Wembley Arena. Little bit of overkill on the smoke machine, methinks, but you’ve got to love the Moodies.
It’s been raining cats and dogs up here in the North, so a dose of the The Fifth Dimension with AQUARIUS and LET THE SUNSHINE IN lifted the mood somewhat and, hopefully, will influence the weatherman.
Some more Cannonball Adderley (it’s a great album, really!): Having already heard about the water sign PISCES and the earth sign CAPRICORN, it was time to find out about the fire sign ARIES. Prince couldn’t care less what sign you are, all he wants is your KISS.
Teenage Fanclub try to dismiss the power a star sign can hold: “Hey, there’s a horseshoe on my door,” they sing, “big deal. Hey, there’s a black cat on the floor, big deal.” But the Fanclub accept that people’s days are changed by whatever they wish to believe. For Rush, the question of whether the “stars aren’t aligned, or the gods are malign” is very simple. “I will choose a path that’s clear,” they proclaim. “I will choose freewill.” Hmmm, now there’s some food for thought. Check out the video of Rush performing live in 1981. Brilliant.
Regina Spektor is another favourite if mine. She’s an Aquarius and she’s recorded a song of the same name that’s intensely personal and worth checking out if you are also one of those highly intelligent, humanitarian people born under this particular water sign.
A great piece of instrumental followed, called SCORPIO, from the brilliant jazz guitarist and ex-Funk Brother, Dennis Coffey. This guy has played with all the soul greats, including Mavin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder….. the list goes on. And he’s white! Just goes to show, there’s no colour barrier to soul. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
More Cannonball Adderley (can I help it if the guy’s a genius and he just so happened to record a whole album that suited the theme?). He gives the air sign LIBRA its due attention, and we know that Librans like attention don’t we! . German Big Bander Gunter Noris contributed the track GEMINI from an album called ‘The In Kraut Hip Shaking Grooves”. I kid you not. The 70’s have a lot to answer for.
SAGITTARIUS SILVER ANNOUNCEMENT is from the album Embryonic, by the band that dared to remake Dark Side of the Moon and actually got away with it – the Flaming Lips. I don’t have a decent clip of them performing this great track, but I encourage you to check out their very good website at http://www.flaminglips.com
The next double was a very moving one. First up it was George Harrison with a song about his own star sign, PISCES FISH and we followed with one of the most beautiful tunes I’ve heard of late, GUIDING STAR by Neil Finn. It was recorded on the album Caution: Life Ahead as a fundraiser for the Buttery rehabilitation centre here in the Northern Rivers.
Now I did choose to cover Western Astrology for this week’s show but I want to recognise that this is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. For those of you born under this sign you are courageous, daring, confident and a born leader. But you can be unpredictable and tempestuous, sometimes territorial and possessive. Because 2010 s the Year of the Metal Tiger, it also brings you additional strength and determination. And in celebration of what looks like a dynamic year for all of us, and as a tribute to all the Leos out there, we closed the show with Al Stewart’s YEAR OF THE CAT. Kung Hei Fat Choy! That is, I hope this year brings you all good fortune and prosperity.
I’m often quoted as saying that I’ll do a show on almost anything, including fruit and vegetables and I realized I hadn’t actually created a show about these very healthy food items, so next week FRUIT AND VEGIES it is. Whatchagot?
Here’s this week’s playlist:
This week’s theme was a toughie: SONGS TO MAKE SANDWICHES TO was inspired by a forum on music mag Word’s site. While Word readers couldn’t take the subject seriously I figured there was room for someone who did. And who better than little ol’ obsessive me? So sandwiches it was, but I made it easier by also including hamburgers, hot-dogs and the like. I even allowed songs about stuff that goes into a sandwich, like honey, tomatoes, chicken. Still I suffered some abuse. Impossible, you emailed. Why not make it broader and include all food pleaded Lynden. Crap theme, too hard, moaned Zoe. Oh you listeners of little faith.
We opened with a novelty song: SANDWICHES ARE BEAUTIFUL from Bob King, but in case you’re worried about this setting a tone for the rest of the show, be assured – rockers, r&b artists and especially the alternative pop singers all delivered some edgy songs on sandwiches.
Do you know where the word sandwich was born? London. 1762. An English nobleman, John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich was too busy gambling to stop for a meal even though he was hungry for some food. The legend goes that he ordered a waiter to bring him roast-beef between two slices of bread. The Earl was able to continue his gambling while eating his snack; and from that incident, we have inherited the fast-food product that we now know as the sandwich.
Today, our favourite version of meat between bread is called a hamburger. So we got the show rolling with the Whitlams’ brilliant I MAKE HAMBURGERS followed by The Flaming Lips and SHE DON’T USE JELLY. New York based, Japanese duo Cibo Matto were next with LE PAIN PERDU. The name of the band is Italian for crazy food and the title of the song is French for Toast. The lyrics in their songs are all primarily concerned with food, well seemingly anyway, and I liked them so much I also played another of their tunes, KNOW YOUR CHICKEN later in the program. Here’s the crazy video clip of that track and, although he doesn’t appear in the clip, that’s Sean Lennon on bass.
Two items that elevate ordinary old toast to dessert status are marmalade and honey. So any excuse to play Patti Labelle’s LADY MARMALADE and Aretha Franklin’s HONEY and I’m there. Yum yum.
Louis Jordan loves his BEANS AND CORNBREAD while Lil Johnson pushes metaphor to it’s limits with SAM THE HOT DOG MAN. Neil Young is partial to TUPELO HONEY on his sandwich, while Jimmy Buffet can’t stop singing about a CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE.
When it comes to cheeseburgers, whether we like it or not, the burger with the highest profile has got to be MacDonald’s. Hell, there was a whole conversation about their burgers in the film PULP FICTION. Ah yes, how could we not include that iconic scene where John Travolta and Samuel Jackson discuss the merits of the French McDonald’s – ROYALE WITH CHEESE?
Two tunes that pay homage to the fact that a good cuppa is needed to wash down a sandwich or piece of toast were next. Canadian Jeff Healey, gave Gertrude Lawrence’s A CUP OF COFFEE, A SANDWICH, AND YOU a burl and then it was TOAST AND MARMALADE FOR TEA, a nice piece of bubblegum from the band Tin Tin.
Kaiser Cheifs reminded us of that vital sandwich ingredient – tomatoes – with TOMATO IN THE RAIN. And then it was the hilarious TOAST from Paul Young and the Streetband. Classic. Take a look at this clip from 1978.
In Mexican cuisine, a sandwich is either a taco or a burrito. Beck didn’t sound too happy when he sang SATAN GAVE ME A TACO. It seems taking delivery of that snack had all kinds of repercussions. Meanwhile, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention went CRUISING FOR BURGERS. As you do.
All girl group Care Bears on Fire let loose with the precautionary BARBIE EAT A SANDWICH. Nice animated clip too. Check it out:
Let’s talk chicken. Here’s a question: What’s a chicken sandwich without MAYONNAISE? Smashing Pumpkins offered up a track dedicated to the condiment of all condiments. Mmmmm mmmmm: chicken, lettuce and mayo on white bread – can’t get better than that. The Detroit Grand Pubahs reinforced the fact that all songs, but especially those about food, are really about sex. The tune? The very cheeky WE CAN MAKE SANDWICHES. Here we go: another crazy video clip:
Out of the disco and out on the road: Little Feat are sang all about HAMBURGER MIDNIGHT and then John Mellencamp reckons that life is like choosing between HOTDOGS AND HAMBURGERS, (not sure what he’s getting at there).
Comedian Mitch Hedberg does a great skit on sandwiches and I particularly liked the bit about the Club Sandwich. We followed that with a dangerous piece of radio: Metal band Psychostick with THIS IS NOT A SONG, IT’S A SANDWICH!
After Psychostick we needed to calm down and what better way than with Feist and a song about the calming qualities of HONEY? You wouldn’t exactly call The Sugarcubes, (with Bjork), a calming influence. They can’t decide what to put on their sandwich and are threatening to EAT THE MENU. Check out the very young Bjork and a fabulous floating burger, all in one clip!
We closed the show with an oldie but a goodie: I LIKE BREAD AND BUTTER by the New Beats. Check out the clip from 1964:
Next week the show will feature Songs about Elvis; not by Elvis – although that would be good too – Songs about Elvis. Come on this one is easy, so start sending those requests in.
But for now, here’s this week’s playlist: